Caloric restriction (CR), undernutrition without malnutrition, remains the only experimental paradigm that has been shown consistently to extend lifespan and slow aging in short-lived species. Decades of research, mostly in laboratory rodents, have shown that CR consistently extends lifespan, reduces or delays the onset of many age-related diseases and slows aging in many physiological systems. In recent years gerontologists interested in CR have focused on two unanswered questions. 1) What is the relevance of this nutritional paradigm to human aging? and 2) What biological mechanism(s) underlie the diverse effects of CR leading to a retardation of aging and disease?. To address the question of human relevance, researchers in the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging began a study of CR in nonhuman primates in the late 1980s. In addition to assessing the effects of CR on aging in primates, a major focus of this work relates to possible metabolic mechanisms of CR. A subsequent study at the University of Wisconsin Madison was initiated in the early 1990s. Certain aspects of experimental design differ between these two important ongoing investigations, but generally these studies compliment each other in many ways and have begun to provide much important data regarding the effects of CR in primates. Emerging data from these studies strongly support that physiological responses to CR in monkeys parallel the extensive findings reported in rodents. Lifespan data will not be available for several years, however, the remarkable consistency with rodent studies, in which lifespan extension is documented extensively, strengthens the possibility that CR will also extend lifespan in primates, perhaps including humans. This review summarizes the major findings from the primate CR studies after over a decade of research in this model.